What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a fact of life and as we age, so do our ears. But some factors can accelerate this process dramatically, so learning how to eliminate these will help you love your hearing for longer.

Changes to our hearing occur when a part of the auditory system isn’t working quite how it should. The type of hearing loss that we may experience will depend on which part of the system is causing an issue.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common, usually occurring as a natural part of the ageing process or from prolonged exposure to loud sounds. It happens when there is a problem between the inner ear and the brain; often resulting from damage to the hair cells or the auditory nerve. Typical signs of sensorineural hearing loss include a difficulty in hearing clearly and trouble understanding speech in environments with background noise, such as a busy cafe.

The second most common type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. This affects the volume of sound meaning noises often appear muffled or simply not loud enough. This tends to occur when sound has trouble passing through the outer and middle ear. This can be temporary or permanent but there are medical treatments available that can improve some cases of conductive hearing loss.

It is also possible to have a combination of both types of hearing loss - this is called mixed hearing loss.

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